U.S. Mining Executive Innocent in Indonesia
Posted Apr 24, 2007 2:26 PM CST
By Martha Neil
A 21-month criminal trial in Indonesia against a major U.S. mining company and one of its executives ended today with a not-guilty verdict by the judge.
Despite a reported demonstration outside the courthouse by an estimated 1,000 protesters, Judge Ridwan Damanik held there was not enough evidence to prove that waste rock dumped by Newmont Mining Corp. into a bay off Indonesia's Sulawesi Island exceeded government standards of permitted toxicity, reports the AP.
"There also is not enough evidence that people suffered from health problems," the judge said, ruling on claims that nearby villagers experienced skin disease, unexplained lumps, breathing difficulties and dizziness.
If convicted, the Denver-based gold-mining company and Richard Ness, who headed a local subsidiary, could have been fined $160,000 and Ness could have been imprisoned for up to 10 years.
However, the case may not be over yet. The AP says prosecutors plan to appeal the verdict. The U.S. does not permit an acquitted defendant to be re-tried for the same crime, under double-jeopardy laws.